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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Living in a false world
The numbers of disasters that occur each year, along with the number of people who lose their lives, or have their lives seriously affect by a disaster never seems to decrease. This has the effect of creating “disaster blindness” and apathy with the general population of the developed world. News reportage decreases rapidly and charity donations from the general public decrease, except in high-level involvement scenarios where the disaster impinges either directly or indirectly on the lives of the population in the developed nations. In other words, if a disaster strikes in a popular holiday resort then the media coverage can be sustained and will lead to higher than expected donations from the public, especially if tourists from their home nations are involved or affected. But pity that poor country which is not a popular tourist venue in the event of a disaster, which may have to compete with a news item concerning an “A-list” celebrity. The number of column inches or news minutes air or TV time committed to the “A-lister” will greatly out weigh the disastrous event.
The people in the developed nations are by international measures “wealthy”. The average person in the UK for example spends more on their foreign holidays in one year than the vast majority of people on this planet earn in a year. In many cases the foreign tourist will spend more on their vacation package than the average person in the visited country will earn in a year. Yet, in the event of disaster, the vacation destination country will have to rely heavily on foreign charity, both institutional and personal, donations.
This to me seems to smack not just of hypocrisy by the tourists, but is also tinged with an immorality.
So how can the balance be re-addressed? It would seem to me that if, as an overseas tourist, you can enjoy the good-times in that country, then you should be able to support that country in its bad times. To rely on personal generosity is a bit too much hit-or-miss and what is needed is some form of more direct appreciation of the problems that a popular tourist venue in an underdeveloped, or developing country, are facing.
Foreign holidays are becoming cheaper each year, which, in itself is not a bad thing. More people are venturing further a field especially into the underdeveloped nations. So what I would like to propose is that foreign tourists visiting developing and underdeveloped nations for their vacations pay a small surcharge on their direct holiday costs and the monies raised are held either centrally worldwide or on a national basis.
Then, in the event of a disaster, the afflicted country can apply rapidly to have a proportion of the monies/supplies released. If properly thought out, the monies raised could be used to fund stores of the basic requirements needed in the event of a disaster striking. Simple requirements such as stores of bottled water, tents, potable stoves, vitamin enriched biscuits, basic medical supplies etc. could be held in certain safe areas ready to be shipped out, if and when required.
International tourism is a multi-billion-dollar/pound/ECU business and a small surcharge (1-2 per cent) is really a small imposition on the international holiday-maker – especially as their overall vacation costs are decreasing annually.